A Short Story : My Only Happy Consequence

“Him or his safety and the masses, you choose?” the most trusted advisor of the late King Hari of Aryavrat said.

The girl, in light yellow chunri, veil enshroud on her head and shoulder, her black curls picked framing her moon face and her light green eyes were welled up. She looked at the middle-aged man in front of her not believing what he was asking of her, the mere thought tore her inside out.

“He would never let me go,” her voice cracked but the truth in her voice was clear and the man in front couldn’t deny it.

“Yes, but if you refuse to be with him then he would,”

The girl’s heart contradicts in her chest with a fighting stance and her knees weaken as she falls on the burned sand seats in her back veranda, surrounded by flowers and perfect green grass.

“I…I can’t,” She gasps.

“You must and this land would never know what you have given for its peace,” the hard voice of the king’s advisor echoed on the surface of her mind but it refused to reach its destination.

“You…you could have asked me anything,” the pain in her heart could never be compared to anything she ever felt before. A knife had been twisted in her chest, the burning of the cut was spreading like poison in her bloodstream.

The man’s eyes seem like a stone to her as tears fall from hers.

“This is what must be done, to keep the people of this land safe. Prince Arun is taking this land on the verge of war and if Devrutt insists on the love he has for you. This would be the end of this dynasty and do not forget this land give your people shelter when you have nowhere to go,”

The advisor walked away with those words and her head stumbled on the edge, future? What of the past she had lived and the future she thought would never be taken away. What of the past two years of memories would twist like a knife in her heart every day if she does what he said?

It was the ripe age of sixteen, she was happy and excited for her elder brother’s wedding and skipping through the market with a basket full of marigold flowers. At first, he was just a simple boy a few years older than her. She collided with and soiled all of her flowers. The first thought, Mother, would have my head! 

Between her cry of shock and his rapid apology, nothing had registered and she rapidly started to gather the flowers in the basket and her eyes stopped at his brown eyes. 

The dark colour vivid in the sun and his green turban had fallen off. “Forgive me, I didn’t see you coming,” He repeated, she stretches her chunri to cover half of her face as he bends down and picks the flowers. She took it from him shyly and gasped at the brush of his fingers. Her light green eyes widened and she ran away.

“Wait! What is your…” 

She never knew what he was about to say and her heart thumped in her chest like a little bird trying to spread her wings for the first time. The tingle of her hand where their skin made contact never left her.

A few months later, she comes to another surprise, the boy she has been searching for in the market, just for a glance lives in the palace. It was the victory celebration of the new expedition. The new peace treaty was achieved by the prince, the war with the neighbour ended and her family was invited, her father worked under the Lord of the Finance.

The golden muslin curtain dividing the hall into two, for men and women. She recognized his eyes. They were the same in the lamplight as in the sun, deep and shining. A sheer fascination took her mind thinking what he is doing here? People came and greeted him after the king, ‘You highness’ they addressed him.

“He is the prince?” She whispered.

“Prince Devrutt,” her mother informed her.

“Devrutt,” She whispered, it was like he had heard her because he turned his head and his eyes landed on the light green once through the curtain, here she was. A thin curtain away and those eyes had haunted his dreams since he had seen them.

Her heart leapt in her chest, and painfully sweet something had tuned in every beat. The green eyes widened again when the dark ones didn’t look away instead the prince’s feet were coming towards her and she quickly disappeared behind the gathered Nobel women.

The night got darker and it was time to return when she lost her mother in royal women residents, having no inclination where she was going she turned and ended up on the terrace overlooking the sky, the cool wind blowing and the white muslin curtain flown coming in the way.

Devrutt was on his way to bid good night to his Queen mother when chimed of the anklets in the deserted corridor reached him. He followed the noise.

For the first time, her unbound black hairs were out of her veil and her moon face was in scowl with worry. He put the curtains away to get a clear view. Devrutt’s admiring gaze was caught though by the green eyes and she covers her head again, a sign of modesty and respect. She bowed with namaste and turned to leave.

“Ah! Wait!” He grabbed her hand and her breathing stopped as she looked at their hands.

“Forgive me,” He let go of her hand.

“You are running again?” He asked.

“Forgive me, your highness, it was not my intention to disturb you,” she said quietly, looking out blowing a little air out reminding herself that she needs to breathe.

“But it was mine to disturb you,” He said, his smile stubble but pleasing. She didn’t know what he meant by that so she chooses to answer his previous question

“I was looking for my mother,” She said in a quiet voice.

“All the guests are bidding adieu, she might be there,” He answered.

“Gratitude, Your Highness,” She bowed with namaste.

“Wait!” He grabbed her hand again and her eyes cast down in shyness, it would have been better if she didn’t let him know the pleasure she felt at that time. 

“Would you do me the honour of letting me know your name?” He asked, getting closer and leaning to meet her eyes.

“Mariah!” her mother’s voice echoed calling her and the chunri she was clutching slipped from her head, as Devrutt let go of her hand.

“Mariah, can I meet you again?” He asked quickly knowing what shot window he had.

She could only look at him in surprise and giggled shyly, running away leaving only her anklet chiming in the corridor and a grin on Devrutt’s face. 

Mariah found herself looking everywhere, scanning the cross dirt roads, the market, even her veranda. To see if he would come, she shouldn’t have waited so eagerly and he shouldn’t have chosen to come but he did.

She was having a hard time choosing the bangle she should buy, it was her nephew’s naming ceremony.

“I think this one will suit you better,” He whispered. She gasps looking around consciously, wishing nobody saw him this close to her.

“Your Highness,” 

“If you address me as such, then we will have quite the attention,”

“Then what should I address you as?” her voice was so low even she couldn’t hear it.

“Dev,”

She met his eyes with astonishment. She should have told him that he shouldn’t let her be so close to him but she chooses to cast her eyes down as he slides the green bangles in her hand and with every bangle settling into her wrist would come with soft whisper of his finger brushing to it with every whisper she lost the ability to breathe little by little.

She should have stopped it there when the next time a letter comes for her to meet him outside of the market. Maybe if she hadn’t met him that day, it wouldn’t hurt so much but she did and they walked on the trail silently. She would not often have anything to say but if there is something that bothers her or like finding a puppy outside of her house she saved and her mother doesn’t approve, how she was worried about his health, how she has to fight to keep it with her. He would listen with wrap attention, sometimes he would stand there in deep thought by the tree.

One day she couldn’t hold her curiosity and she asked.

“My father…he is not well,” He said. She held his hand waiting for him to continue.

“It’s Prince Arun, who has taken most of his duties but his way of handling things is… different.” He said.

“Is something about him bothering you?” she asked and he looked at her, sighing.

“He wishes to invade Indrawart,” Devrutt said.

Indrawart was a kingdom in the south of Sapta Sindhu equal in prosperity to Aryavart. An invasion means war, that would destroy many generations.

“Dev…” 

“I know I am trying to subdue it but some lords who are more ambitious are on his side,”

“What does the Royal Advisor say?” She asked.

“He wants me to take the throne, so I won’t be questioned,” 

“What do you want?”

“I want Father to recover, I am not ready,” He admitted with his shoulder slack. Mariah put her arms around his shoulder as he curled in her arms, seeking comfort. 

“I wish I could do something,” She whispered.

“I am at loss, I need to protect my father’s legacy but how do I fight my Uncle?” He didn’t expect an answer. 

Mariah complements his predicament for a few moments, she doesn’t know much about politics but she knows what displeases her or worries her, living with worry or regret is something she could never live with. Like the puppy, she stubbornly kept to herself in spite of her family disapproval because once when she was little she saw a puppy injured while she was coming home and brought it but her mother made her leave it, she did but she regrets cave into it. He was injured so severely and she abandoned it.

“Don’t make a choice that will make you feel regret,” She said. 

Devrutt rises from her lap and looks at her with a light in his eyes like he had never seen her and she casts her eyes down with shyness.

“Maybe I talk out of turn,” She said self consciously.

“Nobody would have given me a better answer,” He caressed her cheek lovingly and she blushed.

Devrutt has to protect his father’s legacy and he worked with a royal advisor to gain support in the royal court. Aryavart retreats its tropes and Indrawart was ready for a peace treaty.

They didn’t have many moments to steal but time got by in waiting.

Trailing in the forest behind her house, her eyes widened in pleasant surprise when she saw him leaning in on the tree. She ran and embraced him, he laughed when she just enjoyed the feeling of sinking in his arms.

“I missed you terribly as well,” He said, leaning his forehead to her.

She gazed at him silently, as if trying to imprint him in her.

“You shouldn’t miss me so much,” He said.

“Whatever do you mean?”

“In few days I will come and ask your father for your hand in marriage if you allow me so,”

She looked away bashfully and nodded.

He enshrouds a red churro on her head and every fibre of her was pulsing in delight. In dreams, you forget who you are? What do you choose to be? And often what you are allowed to. Twenty-one years ago her clan had come to Aryavart seeking shelter and she is a refugee’s daughter.

King Hari was on his deathbed and he passed away. She had been cradling Dev when he mourned and she saw him crowned the king of Aryavart, in her heart, they were always as together as people in love can be. 

She never questioned the impossibility until the Royal Advisor knocked on her door, asking to have an audience with her. 

Indarwart named the price of the peace treaty, a matrimony alliance. Princess Durgawati’s marriage to King Devrutt or war for trying to invade their land. Devrutt didn’t tell her, he is trying to find a way to subdue this but even if he manages, nobody would accept her in the court, a refugee’s daughter. To them she is not of this land, it would only bring war and harm to the masses.

“They will ask him to abdicate and he will for you, you must refuse him or everything he built so far will be destroyed,” the Royal advisor told her.

She took the red chunri he gifted her. The rain hit her face, punishing her for what she was about to do.

“What are you doing here? It is strom outside” He put a blanket around her as they stood on the same terrace where they met the second time.

“Mariah?”

She hardens her heart as it becomes heavy like a stone and utter the words she never thought she would.

“I won’t marry you,” She said in a hollow voice.

“Mariah? What are you saying?”

“You are king and I am a refugee’s daughter, there is no match,” She said, but her throat seems to be freezing in stone too.

“I don’t care,”

“I do, I would never be accepted and would be disgraced,” She said in the hardest voice she could muster.

“Why are you saying this?” his voice cracked clenching his jaw unable to comprehend? The Mariah he knew would never care about these things.

“I can’t live a disgraced life and you would be disgrace too, I won’t love a man would be disgrace from his throne,”

Devrutt looked into her dead green eyes, it was out of his understanding and before he could make sense, she walked away leaving a black hole in him. He looks at the red chunri on his feet

After breaking him, Mariah’s soul had shattered and there was nothing she could do to gather it. The King’s marriage announcement elated the capital and her family was invited to the celebration, she went saw him taking the vow to the beautiful princess of Indrawart. She could see the resentment in his eyes through the muslin curtains and how she burns to take it all away but she made her choice. Now, all she had to do is stand by it. 

But if it was hard to see Dev with someone else she never thought imagining herself with someone else would turn everything inside her into dust. When her father fixed her marriage and her mother cladded her with silk and gold for the pre-wedding rituals, she was grinded under the weight of their happiness while she faced her hollow eyes in the mirror. In the night when she made out a tall figure, on the forest line and her heart leapt like coming back to life. She ran, forgetting everything like it was a bad dream and she fell in his arms.

The smile of relief on her lips,  her tear-streaked face, what could Devrutt do but embrace her back.

“I thought you couldn’t love a man who is ready to disgrace himself,”

“Your Majesty…” 

“Oh, you are not allowed to address me as such or to pull away and You are not allowed to lie to me,”

Mariah silently cried, knowing that she was forgiven.

“Listen to me, it is fine,”

“Come with me,” He said.

“I can’t,” she whispered.

“Yes, you can, Don’t do something you will regret,”

Don’t do anything you regret…yes it is her who had to live with this all her life, It would have been easy to be with him and let it be. She sat on the window looking at the black sky and that night she gathered herself, shattering herself to win a losing war, she broke Dev’s heart for she didn’t wish to build her dreams on the graves of others. Now if she chooses to go to Devrutt what she has to lose?

She tied her belongings in knots and slang on her shoulder. The royal advisor was standing outside of the palace gates.

“You can’t cheat the consequences of your choices, your entrance to the palace would ruin everything,”

“I don’t care about that,” She said.

“I am not here to return, my Lord,” She interrupted him

“Then what are you here for?”

“Farewell, but since you are here,” She handed him the letter.

“Can I trust you that you will give him this?” She asked.

“You can,” his sincerity assures her.

“Where are you going then?” He asked.

“Somewhere far,” she turned with a smile and walked away.

Dear Dev,

I am breaking your heart again leaving you. I am choosing to let you go in this life. I know as a King you are allowed many liberties but seeing the man you love with someone else will create poison in one’s heart and I don’t wish this for anyone else. So I am leaving alone, being with someone else would be my greatest regret. I won’t be happy without you but at this moment after all the choices I have made, my only happy consequence would be that I would have no regrets in life and the love I  have for you

Remember to give affection and undivided care to your wife, give your child mine and your unconditional love, protect your legacy.

Yours

Mariah


Inspired by one of the Reedsy Prompts, Like, follow and comment on my reedsy profile, Thanks!

Keep Smiling


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s